SESC had the branding of 29 of its eateries designed by Simone Mattar. She also created and implemented the operation concept, branding, basic menu guidelines, product development, decoration and architectural design for the Pinheiros, Santana and Santos chapters.
The work as a whole was awarded the Identity Design and Spatial Design prizes at the 8th Graphic Design Biennale
SESC –the Brazilian Retailers’ Welfare Association– has been active in all of Brazil for nearly 80 years in providing a range of educational, leisure, cultural and health resources to retail, services and tourism industry workers, as well as to the population at large. Every chapter is equipped with at least one restaurant or cafeteria.
One of the earliest initiatives by the São Paulo State SESCs is its catering program, dating back from 1947 –just one year after its inception. The program has changed and evolved along the years, but has never strayed from its commitment to offering good, healthy meals.
However, the need was felt to create a single reference framework for the food areas in a number of SESC chapters. LabMattar created operational standards for presenting common fronts at different scales: restaurants (450–800m²), cafeterias (100–450m²) and cafés (50–100m²).
The driving concept was based on three core values: it should be Brazilian, Healthy and Contemporary. All fields involved in the project –interior design, furniture design, graphic design, landscaping, menus, table accessories, counter design– were guided towards that goal by means of a brandbook that provided implementation parameters
The brand was inspired by the symbol of the cornucopia from classical antiquity –the horn of plenty signifying abundance and nourishment. The cornucopia is sometimes used to symbolize agriculture and trade, and here its outpourings are made up of about 100 images alluding to Brazilian staples, with anything from drawings based on cordel literature to pictures of kitchen items such as saucepans and forks. The cornucopia brand is also used as a flat image when the project spreads to include surfaces smaller than 10cm. The variegated figures allow for a playful, non-repetitive use of the idea, and help prevent giving customers the feeling of consuming mechanised food, though it comes from a large organisation. Thus, the diversity of images helps promote the feeling that the food served has followed a similar treatment and been prepared in a home-like manner.
The brand identity system takes on a different path when used as signage. This section of the design project was carried out by NGOs of seamstresses who translated the information into their embroidery work. The large number of images opens the way to these women’s creative input in texts and figures by bringing into bear several features of their culture while giving due recognition to each individual’s contribution, even though all of it remained under the wing of a “mother-identity”.
A pilot project was installed at the Pinheiros chapter, and two others quickly followed, at Santana and Santos. The three eateries share a common identity but each also features its own particular character which was determined by its location and layout
The interior design and setting called for eco-friendly materials and, as far as possible, organic materials –whether for furniture or accessories. The organic approach correlates to the origin of all food: tree (fruit) and wood (table). The furniture was not only custom-designed and custom-built, but it was also a product o eco-awareness, both in the choice of wood –which was sanctioned by the Brazilian Council for Forestry Management– and in the decision to employ crafts cooperatives to produce the pieces. In addition, the chairs were made from a newly developed kind of vulcanised fibre.
The eateries were partitioned in islands with different food offering, e.g., salads, grilled meals, desserts and drinks. At the “Culture Stove” restaurant, eating was considered in its relationship with culture, and dishes were created and given names with that in mind. LabMattar also supplied creative input and guidelines to the new menus, providing recipes and suggestions for food presentations.